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Maine officials are closely monitoring the new omicron variant

Virus Outbreak South Africa
Jerome Delay
A passenger makes his way through Johannesburg's OR Tambo's airport Monday Nov. 29, 2021. The World Health Organisation urged countries around the world not to impose flight bans on southern African nations due to concern over the new omicron variant.

The Mills Administration says it's closely tracking the new omicron variant of COVID-19. No cases have been detected in Maine yet, but some hospital officials say it's only a matter of time.

Gov. Mills issued a statement Monday about the latest variant of concern for COVID-19. She says Maine is positioned well to detect omicron because of its partnership with the Jackson Laboratory, which conducts genomic sequencing on positive COVID tests to detect variants.

The chief health improvement officer at MaineHealth, Dr. Dora Anne Mills, says it will likely only be days before omicron is detected and the best protection against it is to boost immunity.

"Get the booster shot if you haven't gotten the booster shot yet. And certainly getting our kids ages 5 and up vaccinated as well. I think those are the most important steps we can take to protect ourselves against this new variant."

Maine's major hospital systems say they're also looking at strategies to further increase bed capacity. Hospitals are currently grappling with a surge of cases and record numbers of patients needing care for COVID-19.